Nowadays, it seems that every entrepreneur is hell-bent on working with a business mentor. And why not? Having a go-to-advisor is one of the best ways to jumpstart your career. They help you make important decisions, teach you how to limit the mistakes most people make, and guide you towards carving your own path as a successful entrepreneur.
But there’s more to mentorship than just the monogamous mentor/mentee relationship. Mentorship can take many different forms and knowing where to look for these can truly make a lasting impact on your entrepreneurial journey.
In this article, we’ll discuss what it means to have a business mentor based on the experiences of ‘Shark Tank’ investor Robert Herjavec.
How mentorship comes in different forms
As one of the most recognisable figures in the popular tv series Shark Tank, Robert Herjavec knows how important mentorship is to develop a successful career. He believes that guidance and championship aren’t just limited to just working with one person and that you can look for it in many different ways.
“When I consider mentorship, I see it as a series of moments with key individuals over the course of my career. Have I always had one individual guide me along the way? No, that wasn’t my experience. But there are multiple people that have offered advice or a sounding board along the way and for their consideration and feedback, I’m extremely grateful.” Herjavec shares.
Instead of viewing mentorship as his only source of guidance, Herjavec sought out wisdom from a roster of people whom he considered his “unofficial” mentors, chief of them being Ross Marden, former chairman of Wang Canada
According to Herjavec, Marden was the first person to tell him that he was way off on his approach to sales and since then, he took that lesson to heart and changed his tactics immediately.
“At the time he took me to the window in our office and asked me to look at the hot dog vendor selling at the edge of our parking lot. He told me that I was acting like the vendor – pushing the product, and doing all the work to make a living. He followed that statement with, “You need to be the guy supplying the dogs to all the vendors if you ever want to scale.”
Herjavec was caught by surprise because he had a strong belief of his sales approach. But Marsden opened his eyes and realised that if he truly wanted to succeed, then he will most likely need guidance from people that he can trust. He then leveraged that learning opportunity and dedicated himself to working with a sales approach that had scalability and efficiency in mind.
“Had it not been for Mr Marsden taking the time to help me realize the true opportunity in front of me, I don’t think I would have fully grasped my potential as an entrepreneur.” Herjavec added.
Was Mr Marsden Herjavec’s official mentor? Not formally. But he found nuggets of wisdom in Marsden’s words that helped shape his entrepreneurial career into what it is now.
Value learning experiences from different sources
As you progress through your career, you’ll come across a couple of Mr Marsden’s along the way. If you open yourself to these small “mentorship” moments, you’ll benefit from their experiences much like Herjavec did early on in his career. As you consider mentorship, take the time to value such learning experiences that can mould you into the person you wish to become.
“Stop the “will you be my mentor?” emails and start being present to embrace the learning opportunities all around you. Ask your colleagues and executive team members for their points of view. Seek advice from your direct leader or leader once removed.” Herjavec says.
Having multiple sources of knowledge and wisdom can also make you a more well-rounded individual. Oftentimes when working with a sole mentor, we often place their thoughts and opinions around a pedestal. We tend to block off insights from other people that could potentially make an impact on your development.
Each individual, whether it’s your official mentor or unofficial one, can contribute something unique to your life. For example, you may have a peer mentor that gives you advice regarding your personal life whilst your older colleague offers valuable knowledge regarding your concerns at work.
The importance of mentorship cannot be understated. Many successful entrepreneurs have credited their success to working with mentors that served as their beacon as they navigate through the murky waters of entrepreneurship.
But this doesn’t mean that you should just fixate yourself on learning from your mentor.
When you open your mind to learning from other sources, you benefit from their experience and inherit their wisdom and knowledge along the way.
This is what it really means to have a business mentor. Like they always say, be like a sponge and absorb every bit of knowledge and information that you can get, whether it be from your chosen mentor or an individual like Mr Ross Marsden.